In my experience as an adult educator, I have found that adult learners returning to formal study for the first time, have often had negative learning experiences at school, and as a result of this, they lack confidence when it comes to studying and learning. These barriers to learning need to be addressed. Being an adult learner is different to learning at school:
- As an adult learner you bring with you many life experiences, and these experiences will be assist you in your studies.
- You will probably be more motivated than you were at school – most adult learners have a reason for learning, ie goals.
- You will find that you have many more demands on your time, therefore planning and time management skills are critical to your success.
- You are responsible for your own learning.
Top Six Study Tips
1. Ask for help
Don’t try to be superman – let your family and friends help you! Don’t be too proud to accept help if it is offered, or to ask for help if you need it.
2. Time management
Most adult learners have very busy lives as they juggle work, family and other commitments with the demands of studying. It is critical that you have a timetable for studying. Get a diary and schedule in your classes. Block out time for regular study and record the due date of your assignments. Do not procrastinate – make your learning a priority!
3. You are responsible for your learning
Learning is a two-way process. Your teachers will impart their knowledge, but you need to make sure that you learn it. You are responsible for your learning, and for ensuring that you understand and process the new information.
4. Be an Active Listener
Being an active listener does not mean sitting quietly, it means to be focussed on listening, taking relevant notes, and asking questions if you need clarification. A Samoan lady that I was teaching once relayed the following story:
She was attending university as a mature adult student for the first time. During lectures she felt intimated by the younger palagi (Samoan name for European people). She didn’t ask questions because she was embarrassed by her pigeon English, and didn’t want to appear “stupid”. She failed her first paper. She described how she made the decision that she would never again allow her insecurities to cause her to fail. She vowed and declared that from that point on, she would ask questions and she would keep on asking questions. She didn’t care if she sounded stupid, or if she spoke using bad English. She kept on asking questions until she completely understood. As a result, she gained respect from the other students, and made friends. But most importantly, she passed her exams. Today, she is very confident, speaks good English and is still learning.
Just imagine how different her life would be today, if she hadn’t faced her fears and had given up on her goals.
5. Take notes, or create mind maps
During your class, or lecture, make sure that you take written notes on important topics. You won’t remember everything that is discussed in class, so it is important that you record the information that you need.
An alternative to writing notes, is creating mind maps. A mind map is a visual representation, and is a good alternative to writing pages of notes. Visual learners often find that mind maps make information more memorable, and therefore easier to recall, that written notes.
Take a look at the video below on how to create mind maps, and check out this article on Mind Maps. (Note, I have no affiliation to this article and video).
6. Don’t Let Your Fears Wreck Your Opportunities
In order to learn we must take risks and try new things. When we try new things we often make mistakes, and we learn from our mistakes. If you are not making mistakes, you are not learning. It is okay to mistakes!
When you first start a course of learning it can seem quite daunting and the end result may seem a long way away. As you progress, you will become familiar with the learning programme and comfortable with your teacher and other students. It is important to have a positive attitude and keep your end goal in sight. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes.
It will be worth it in the end!
Thanks for reading this post, and please let me know if it has been helpful to you. Have you any tips that you can share with others? Do you have any questions that I can help with? I love getting feedback, so please leave a comment.
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